All every child wants is to feel like they fit in. But it can be hard when they find little to no representation in the world around them, including their toys.
Amy Jandrisevits, a former social worker in a pediatric oncology unit, understands all too well how therapeutic it is for kids to see their differences reflected in the things they play with — namely, dolls. That’s what inspired her to create “A Doll Like Me.”
“In my time working with the kids, I used dolls in play therapy to help the children express themselves,” Amy said. “It’s hard to tell a child that they are beautiful but follow it with – but you’ll never see yourself in anything that looks like you.”
So she began making her own non-traditional Raggedy Ann dolls for children with disabilities. Each is handmade and looks just like the child it’s made for, matching their unique physical characteristics, medical issues, and ethnicity.
Each costs about $100 to make and ship, but if families can’t afford to pay, Amy covers the cost with funds raised through her GoFundMe campaign. She’s also partnered with a children’s hospital to help provide other kids with dolls for comfort as they go through their medical care.
Amy says her ultimate goal is to be to able to give out all the dolls for free. “If we’re going to look at mental health as a necessary part of medical care, this is key.”
So far, she’s made over 300 dolls, and her admirable efforts definitely aren’t going unnoticed. In fact, she was recently selected as GoFundMe’s Hero of December!
“It is an honor to be recognized for what is my labor of love AND it is awesome that other people believe in the power of representation,” Amy wrote. “On the one side, dolls are validating for the little people they reflect. And on the other side, dolls are a tangible way to share kindness and demonstrate acceptance. These children are perfect just the way they are!”
Thank you so much, Amy, for helping kids celebrate their differences by creating more diversity in their toys. Their happy faces really say it all.
Watch as one little girl gets surprised with her own “doll like me” in the clip below, and share to spread Amy’s mission.
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